What is ray-tracing?
Posted on March 11 2019
To talk about ray-tracing, we first need to see how lights work in the real world. Basically, after the light come out from the source, it is reflected, absorbed or diffused based on the texture of the objects that the light hit. After a series of bouncing between objects to objects, the light finally reaches our eyes, and then getting processed into visual stimulation in our brains. There are uncountable ray of lights bouncing to different places in the same time. With each light bouncing from one object to another, any change of the object in the space will affect the lights in the area. For example, if we put a mirror in a room, the light will be reflects from the mirror, making the room even brighter. And as there are so many light sources, objects, and textures in our everyday surroundings, the trace of lights are usually extremely complex.
Ray-Tracing is essentially about the technique of tracing every ray of light from human’s eyes to the source of light. Just like we mention above, there are uncountable rays of lights bouncing into different places at the same time. It is generally a giant task for computer to process. For example, an animated film that utilizes ray-tracing for its realistic lightings, usually takes days or months to complete the processing. Ray-tracing was impossible to be applied to computer games where a graphics unit has to produce up to 60 frames of perfect lighting images per second.
Ray-Tracing is on its way to become fully utilized by most of the games, thanks to the improvement of GPU in the newest NVIDIA RTX series. Before that happens, the 3D rendering world is mainly dominated by a technique called rasterization, especially for gaming. Rasterization can be seen as a less complicated way for rendering, compared to Ray-Tracing (Nevertheless the process of rendering itself is still very complex).
What is rasterization?
With rasterization, 3D objects are created with millions of polygons and triangles. Each of the polygon or triangle contains information about its position in the space, color, texture and the direction that it’s facing. After that, each triangle on the model is converted into the pixels on 2D screens, including its color information for pixel to display. During the process of converting 3D objects into 2D display, there are other steps that can be put into it to achieve better image quality. First is shading, shading is to change the triangles’ color based on how the light is hitting on to them and how the object’s texture interacts with the light. It is like painting a layer of light effect onto the existing 3D models. There are also depth information being stored in the buffer so that the computer can decide what parts of the objects should be displayed onto the screen, and what parts are actually being covered by other surfaces or objects and shouldn’t be displayed. It might seem complicated at this point, but ultimately rasterization can be simplified into a process of deciding what colors are best suited to triangles based on the calculation of light effect, the location of the triangles and their colors and textures. And then these information about triangles will get transferred into the pixels on the screen. And the monitor will serve as a painter-like character, following the data produced by rasterization to put colors into the right places.
What about Ray-Tracing
Ray-Tracing on the other hand, produces the image through tracing the beam of light from the view port (monitor) to the object, and the other object that the light supposed to bounced from, to yet another, and eventually back to the light source. During the process of tracing the beam of lights, the computer will be able to simulate all the effects of the light as it interact with different surfaces. The physical nature of lights including reflection, refraction and shadows when they interact with different textures (such as reflective, rough, translucent or colorful objects) will all be taken into account. This creates much more realistic lights and shadows in the scene compared to rasterization. (Though there are many techniques that designers can use to artificially increase the realness of the scenes, ray-tracing is still the most thorough and automatic approach.
Though intuitively, we might wonder- “Why does ray-tracing traces the light from our view point back to the light source, instead of the other way around?” Since 3D rendering is all about simulating the real world, wouldn’t it be more realistic to calculate all the beams of light from their light source? The answer lies within the matter of the computing efficiency. There are uncountable amount of beams of light coming from their source. For a computer to process such amount of data, it would take up to days and months. In the same time, not all the beams will end up bouncing into our view port, meaning that they will not be seen by us, and to calculate them will simply be a waste of time. Though while gaming, our view port is always changing since we are constantly moving the characters, there are still many beams of lights that will never get into our viewports. Thus, by tracing the lights backward from the viewports to calculate only the lights that can be seen by viewers, computers can render much faster.
The age of Ray-Tracing
Ray-tracing has been utilized in so many areas such as movie, architecture, interior design industries for many years. If you are a gamer, you probably only started to notice it due to the release of NVIDIA’s newest RTX series graphics cards that support this technique. With the development in graphics cards, we will see more and more games started embracing Ray-tracing for the realistic gaming experiences. For those who demand uncompromising gaming visuals, now is the time to get hop on the newest tech trend to experience it firsthand. The future for ray-tracing will only become brighter. MSI has also released several powerful RTX cards, ready to power up your game play and visual experiences. Feel free to have a look at our RTX introduction page
to know more about its new features and design.
Monitors that match Ray-Tracing technology
Ray-Tracing is all about lights and shadows. With ray-tracing on, there are often scenes in game that are constituted of extremely bright lights and extremely dark shadows, just like in the real life. However, such drastic contrast in the brightness can be challenging for monitors to produce. For monitors with low dynamic contrast rate, the details of the darkness are often sacrificed for the depiction of the brighter parts, and the whole scene can oftentimes look like as if it’s been covered with a layer of grey, resulting in less vibrant color. To fully channel the potential of Ray-Tracing, we will need a monitor that has great contrast rate. And the only thing that can define a monitor’s contrast rate is its panel. There are three types of panel that are used for manufacturing monitors. They are VA, IPS and NT panels. Among them, it is the VA panels that have the best contrast ratio. Other panels like IPS or NT will simply ruin the amazing lights and shadows depiction of Ray-Tracing, by displaying greyish, lack of shadow depth images. Besides, VA panels also offers other features that are crucial for gaming, including 1ms response time, wide viewing angle, ergonomic curvature rate and great color reproduction ability. We strongly recommend you to get yourself a monitor that is made of VA panel to experience the Ray-Tracing technology in its full glory.
As a gaming hardware company that always thinks for gamers, MSI chooses VA panels for the material of its gaming monitors. Simply check out here
to have a look of them. Go get yourself a MSI curved gaming monitor while stepping into the age of Ray-Tracing. You will experience the improvement of gaming visuals that you have never imagined before.
MSI has now design a Ray Tracing mode in its monitor application "Gaming OSD 2.0" for its monitor users. It is a mode that can further enhance the ray tracing effect in game, giving gamers best of the best visual experience. If you would like to see more Gaming OSD 2.0 functions, click here
, or you can simply get yourself a MSI gaming monitors to get all the goodies with ray tracing.